The Best of Comic Book Movies
6. "Superman II": Despite its troubled production and its obvious dating to its time, this film has actually aged pretty well. The action still holds up, its comic nature is still somewhat enjoyable and Christopher Reeve is still the greatest Superman, playing opposite the chilling villain of General Zod. It's a shame that 'Man of Steel' could not live up to this film, or that any Superman film to come after could even be good.
5. "The Punisher": This is easily the most underrated comic book film of the last decade. While flawed, we have to remember this film was released pre- "Dark Knight Trilogy." While "The Punisher" was always intended to be of a darker and more violent tone close to what we see in Nolan's Batman trilogy, at the time, comic book movies were thought to have to walk a line between dark and light hearted to appeal to the audience. 'The Punisher' tells the story of Frank Castle, a former undercover FBI agent. After his last job ends with the death of a mob boss's son, the mob murders his entire family and leaves him for dead. After surviving and healing, Frank rises from the dead to exact punishment on those responsible. Thomas Jane gives an excellent performance as the law man turned vigilante that could not be outdone even by Ray Stevenson's great performance in the reboot.
4. "X2: X-Men United": At the time of its release, some called this the best super hero film ever made. While the "X-Men" franchise has gone downhill since its release, 'X-2' did everything a super hero sequel should do. Since it did not need any further introduction from the original, it jumped right into the characters we already met, giving us a darker and more personal look into them while bringing in new heroes and villains as well. The film gave us an incredibly personal insight into Wolverine's character while raising the stakes from the original. You could even say that his later spin off film was unnecessary as all the ground was covered here.
3. "Iron Man": Let's ignore the sequels and talk about the incredible original. "Iron Man" tells the story of Tony Stark, a billionaire genius running a weapons manufacturing company who builds a powerful weaponized suit to escape terrorists who kidnapped him, then later tries to right his wrongs and fight more terrorists. Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast as the arrogant billionaire turned hero. "Iron Man" is what a good super hero movie should be: a character-driven action film with emphasis on the characters and depth.
2. "The Avengers": Putting a lot of main characters into one film while still giving them all substance and importance is a tricky practice, but it is handled incredibly well here. While the Marvel universe is still more light-hearted than "The Dark Knight" universe, "The Avengers" is led by a strong cast, filled with breath taking action sequences, strung together by genius writing and a lot of comic relief. It all adds up into one hell of an action movie.
1. "The Dark Knight Trilogy": We all knew this was coming. What Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale did with the Batman/Bruce Wayne character, as well as making the story into a realistic crime saga rather than a comic book film, was unprecedented and has been emulated constantly since the release of "Batman Begins." Perfectly cast and filled with great action and characters as well as actual substance, this Batman trilogy has set the bar high for what comic book movies and can and should be. I would hate to be Ben Affleck right now.
Notable mentions: "The Incredible Hulk," "X-Men: First Class," "Spiderman 3," "The Amazing Spiderman"
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